Oni Press, a comic book publisher, recently announced that they would be accepting submissions. This is a big deal to me. It has been a dream of mine to get published by Oni, ever since the last time they opened up submissions, back in the 1990s.
In the summer of 1999 a friend and I had an idea for a comic book mini-series. I was the writer and he was the artist. Oni required at least five sample pages of art and script, so I outlined the first issue and wrote the script for the first five pages. My friend penciled the first five pages, and they looked great.
But then life got in the way. I moved to Columbus, and he moved to Nashville. I wrote the rest of the script for issue one, and emailed it to him. I hoped that would motivate him to finish the pages—they still needed to be inked—but it did not. Months passed, and still the pages went uninked.
Eventually I got desperate. I really wanted to get this proposal mailed off to Oni, and it seemed like the only way I could get this guy to finish the pages was to oversee him in person, so in the spring of 2000 I drove from Columbus to Nashville, and brought him back with me to Columbus.
He stayed with us for a couple of days. During that time he inked the pages, and they looked good. Then the two of us sat down and worked on the proposal. We ran out of time, though, and I had to get him back to Nashville, so we finished up the proposal in his apartment. We put everything in a manila envelope, and my friend agreed to mail it first thing in the morning. It was late, but I had to get back home, so I said my good-byes, and made the long drive back to Columbus.
That whole round trip was about 1,520 miles, just to get those five pages. Like I said—I was desperate.
I thought about that proposal a lot, in the weeks and months to come, because this was my chance, finally, to see if I had what it took, to see if my dream of becoming a published comic book writer really could come true.
But we never heard anything.
In the fall of 2001, for reasons too complicated to go into here, I was back in that Nashville apartment. And, as I helped clean it up, I found something—the manila envelope with the proposal in it. The unopened, never-sent envelope.
I was furious. Deeply, deeply furious.
When I confronted my friend, he was confused. He didn’t know what I was talking about at first. He thought he had mailed the submission off, and wasn’t sure why he hadn’t. He couldn’t remember.
While that proposal had been a milestone in my life, it was barely a footnote in his. Collaboration is a dangerous game; you have to be careful when you share your dreams. You have to remember that you can’t force someone to share your passion.